February 11, 2014

Finding a Photo’s Location

Photos Have Embedded Geographical Information

Today many photo taking devices have GPS and other location determining technologies built in. As a result photos from these devices typically have the geographic location the image was taken embeded into them.

While some image viewing tools will allow you to see the geographic meta data many more programs do not. To overcome this on an Apple computer in OSX we can use a command called mdls. MDLS allows you to view a document’s meta data. In our case we are going to look at a jpeg image.

How To Find A Photos Location

  1. Find the path to the image you would like to see the geo information of.
    • Example: /Users/MyUserName/Desktop/MyImageName.jpg.
    • Using OSX’s Finder application is a good way to find the file’s path
  2. In OSX, open the application Terminal.
  3. In the Terminal window type: mdls /path/to/you/image/MyImageName.jpg and hit Enter.
    • Example: mdls /Users/Nate/Desktop/FunnyPicture.jpg
  4. In the listed of meta data that appears you should see fields for Longitude and Latittude. In my example file the fields are called kMDItemLatitude and kMDItemLongitude.
    MDLS Command
  5. Ta da! You now know where this image was taken

Seeing Image Location On A Map

If you would like to see the location of the image on a map, head over to https://support.google.com/maps/answer/18539?hl=en to format the longitude and latitude coordinates for searching on maps.google.com